There are some big changes coming to the Huguenot Bridge. The first section of the new bridge is going to open up to traffic Saturday, and crews will start to tear down the old one.
The Huguenot Bridge has spanned the James River for sixty years, but this old bridge will finally retire on Saturday as crews shift the 25,000 cars that pass through here every day onto the new structure.
Andy Williams is the new owner of 3 Sports, a sporting goods store just a stone's throw from the bridge. He says right now riding your bike across the old span is pretty scary.
"Oh it's suicide right now," Williams said. "It's a half-mile sprint and you gotta go like mad and avoid all the potholes. And the cars? And the cars."
The new bridge will be much friendlier to people like Andy. There will soon be a 10-foot shoulder for cyclists and a five-foot sidewalk. The bike lanes won't be open until next year, but it will be a far cry from the skinny lanes on the current bridge.
There's going to be a new traffic pattern starting this weekend. If you're heading toward the Huguenot Bridge on the north side, you're going to have to follow an S curve before you make it to the new bridge.
Crews have been working on this project since the fall of 2010. Now workers will start to tear down the old bridge section by section. The second half of the new bridge will then be built on top. Traffic has been a headache trying to get through here while crews are working.
Work won't be done for another year on this entire project, but many people that live and work near here are looking forward to the finished product.
"We're looking forward to increased business and more travel from the south side coming up this direction," he said.
The entire bridge will be shut down starting Friday at 10 p.m.
The existing Huguenot Bridge will be closed to traffic starting Friday at 10 p.m. to allow crews to move barriers into position and install pavement markings at the approaches to the new bridge.
During the overnight closure, drivers are encouraged to use the following alternate routes:
The existing traffic pattern of one travel lane in each direction with no shoulders will remain in place until the second half of the new bridge is ready to receive traffic next summer. In addition, the sidewalk on the new bridge will be closed until approach work on the north end is completed in spring 2013.
In the city of Richmond, Riverside Drive under the bridge and the ramps at Huguenot Road will close after traffic is shifted to the new bridge. Improvements will be made to Riverside Drive and ramps through spring 2013. Drivers are encouraged to use the posted detour route.
Approximately 25,000 vehicles cross the bridge each day. To find out more about the Huguenot Bridge reconstruction project or to sign up for project updates, visit www.huguenotbridge.org.
NBC12 got a behind the scenes look at the construction project earlier this month. The bridge is crumbling and the guard rails do not meet federal standards.
You'll have one last chance to say goodbye to the bridge on Sunday. VDOT says the public will be allowed to take pictures, walk your dog or even have a picnic on the old bridge from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m..
Built in 1949, the bridge was named for the french Huguenot settlers who came to the area in the 18th century to escape religious persecution in France.
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